Early childhood education refers to instruction given to children from birth through age eight. At this age level, children function, process, and respond differently than at any other stage of development. Infants and young children learn best when they are engaged in concrete experiences that allow them to use their senses and motor skills.
The New Jersey Department of Human Services, Division of Youth and Family Services, which oversees, monitors, and licenses child-care facilities throughout the state, provides specific governing regulations in the Manual of Requirements for Child Care Centers (chapter 122). These operational guidelines provide direction for all aspects of curriculum and instruction for programs that serve children under the age of six. The state of New Jersey has further demonstrated support for early learning by mandating that teachers be certified by the state and by creating the Division of Early Childhood Education, which is committed to the expansion and funding of high-quality programs that help prepare children to meet the challenges of elementary school.